England captain Joe Root says his friend and team-mate Ben Stokes has his full support during the Cumbrian's absence from cricket for the good of his mental health.

Stokes is missing the forthcoming Test series against India after taking an indefinite break for the game.

And Root, who has known Stokes since their respective teenage years, said the welfare of the brilliant all-rounder is by far the important concern right now.

"From my point of view, I just want my friend to be OK," said Root, speaking ahead of tomorrow's first Test at Trent Bridge.

"I had a conversation with Ben and that's when I found out. The call will stay between the two of us but for me it was hard to see a friend like that.

"Cricket has to be a secondary thought, a long way down the line and he should take as much time as he needs.

"He's got my full support on that, he's been assured he's got the full support of the ECB on that and, certainly, he's got the whole team's support.

"Anyone who knows Ben [knows that] he always puts other people in front of himself - and now is an opportunity for him to put himself first, to take time to look after himself and get to a good place again.

"Hopefully that can be sooner rather than later."

The England & Wales Cricket Board last week said they would give their full support to Stokes, after it was announced he needed a break from the game to prioritise his "mental well-being" and also to fully recover from a finger injury.

Stars such as Gary Lineker and Kevin Pietersen have also made supportive comments about the 30-year-old's decision, while England spinner Jack Leach said the whole team is behind the Cockermouth star.

Root admitted Stokes will not be easy to replace in the current side but that England would find ways of managing without him.
"In my opinion, there's no one that compares to Ben Stokes in world cricket," Root said.

"Obviously for a long time now, he's been incredible, he's the heartbeat of this team.

"But that does present opportunities for others to step up to the plate and put in big performances.

"We have found ways to win without Ben there. This is another opportunity for us to try and do that."